A tale of four Citroens – new car!

I’ve sold several cars via the raffle system on a favoured car forum – members only deals linked to the Lotto bonus ball. A dreadful Volvo 740, the Honda Prelude and a Mitsubishi Colt were sold by this method, with a great deal of success. I’ve also taken part in a few raffles too, as a hopeful buyer. Without luck. Until now! EDIT – Video now available here.

When a Citroen ZX was offered up for just £2 per ticket, I had to have a go. In fact, I had to have two tickets. Value! £4 spent, with two lucky dips. Now, following the Lotto draws is annoyingly difficult, so I wasn’t really paying attention. Then, the forum thread was updated to reveal that I was the winner. Oh dear. I then had to break the news to my wife…

Surprisingly, Rachel was sufficiently interested that she decided to accompany me on the collection caper. Perhaps it was because I said I’d sell the RAV4 to make room for the new arrival, and she wanted to make sure that I really did…

That itself went very smoothly, when a friend agreed to have it as it seemed ideal for his needs. I don’t doubt that. It’s a great little car, albeit one that isn’t very comfortable for long journeys. Which was unfortunate, as I agreed to deliver it most of the way to him, by leaving it with his dad in Sutton Coldfield.

So, that’s what we did yesterday morning, timing our run to perfection to avoid the hideous traffic chaos of both Newtown and the M6/M5 interchange. Remarkably, we got there in 2.5hrs. That’s an impressive average of 48mph!

Bye bye RAV4. First Citroen of the day next to it.

Bye bye RAV4. First Citroen of the day next to it.

A lift to the train station, in Citroen number 1 of this adventure, was much appreciated. We got a slightly earlier train into Birmingham, so I foolishly decided we’d have a quick nose about the City Centre. This required us to walk very, very fast, and occasionally run back to the station, where we got to the platform with minutes to spare. We hopped aboard a Cross Country Trains Voyager, where the catering chap was making apologies for the lack of service previously – the exact same thing happened the last time I travelled on Cross Country. Thankfully, we had beef sandwiches and drinks with us. Nae bother.

After some time, we reached Reading, and eventually managed to find our way out of the station and down to a subterranean car park hidden beneath. There, we found Citroen number 2.

Olympic Blue! A favourite colour, on this BX14. Citroen number 2.

Olympic Blue! A favourite colour, on this BX14. Citroen number 2.

The owner promptly delivered us to Citroen number 3, which is the one we were driving home in. That was meant to be all the Citroens on this trip, but it turns out we’d meet one more…

Citroen number 3 - my new £4 car.

Citroen number 3 – my new £4 car.

There was a bit of a wait while I sorted out bureaucracy – change of owner, vehicle tax and insurance. I also did a few videos, most of which were rubbish. After a check of the levels, I declared the car probably alright, and we headed straight onto the M4 motorway. I did notice a bit of a droning noise at speed, but thought it was probably due to cheap tyres. In this, I was quite wrong.

Still, we covered over 100 miles without issue, other than slight discomfort due to the seats. I need a bit more lumbar support than these seats provide, though I say that about pretty much every car, so maybe the problem is me. After over three hours of driving with only a brief stop for fuel, I’m probably not being very kind to my back.

Hereford was horrible – traffic everywhere. At least I could be glad that the clutch is fairly light and the gearchange remarkably pleasant. I’m used to PSA diesels being a bit rubbish in this regard. At 112,000 miles, it’s pretty much run in for one of these.

Herefordshire would not get any better. It started raining, and then the car began to feel very wayward. As we drove, pretty briskly, through the enjoyable curves of the A480, I felt the car begin to move in unexpected ways. Its progress began to feel interrupted, and it was feeling as if the rear end was steering. ZXs do indeed have passive rear wheel steering, but this was far stronger than that. As we limped towards Kington, it stepped slightly out of line while I was driving on a straight. Already, my speed had dropped. It now dropped further, especially as the tired wiper blade was making vision rather tricky.

We pulled in to a car park and I quickly assessed the car. Neither front wheel had play detectable in it, and the nearside rear was ok. The offside rear? Bloody hell! No, that was not right at all. Rocking the top of the wheel back and forth, I could feel the hub moving in a way that hubs should not. I could see the hub nut dust cover moving with the wheel, so that ruled out loose wheel bolts (though they were checked anyway). We were tired and hungry, and went in search of food while pondering our next move.

Handily, we had friends a few miles away, and they very quickly offered to put us up for the night. We could limp there, down a largely single-track road, in relative safety. We’d investigate in the morning.

And, this morning, investigate we did.

Investigating the rear wheel bearing on the new ZX, while Citroen number 4 looks on.

Investigating the rear wheel bearing on the new ZX, while Citroen number 4 looks on.

Well, if you’re going to break down, break down near a friend who owns the same car, has a load of tools for them and knows where to get parts!

It didn’t take long to form a diagnosis. On removing the hub nut dust cover, we could see metal fragments. We dashed off in Citroen number 4 to see if we could purchase a solution. My friend Adrian let me drive his ZX, which is a much later, turbo diesel version of my new car. This was an unexpected pleasure, even if it did remind me of the turbo lag my ZX does not have. Mind you, this ZX also didn’t have a horrible droning noise…

We found a garage that was open, were just about in time to request a ZX wheel bearing be added to their van delivery for that morning and agreed that they would fit it to the drum. Back to the car, off with the drum and sweep up the wheel bearing parts…

Yes, that wheel bearing is pretty knackered!

Yes, that wheel bearing is pretty knackered!

We think one or two of those rollers had broken up completely, with the heat generated from the failing bearing them removing any grease as it overheated, leading to it pretty much destroying itself. This causes a droning noise… It also causes the wheel to try locking up, which might explain why it felt like the car was occasionally losing power the night before. It also allowed a huge amount of play at the wheel, hence the curious handling.

With the drum off, we went back to the garage, who had now received the new bearing. It was pushed in, money was handed over (and I bought a new wiper blade) and we returned to the car, refitted the brake drum, put the wheel on and pretty much drove straight to a local gig that we were very keen not to miss. Thankfully, we arrived ten minutes before it was due to start. It was rather enjoyable, and THEN we finally made it home.

Home at last!

Home at last!

I’m very thankful to our friends Adrian and Ellie for helping us out when all seemed rather bleak. That truly is what friends are for. Now the editor has helped me out so selflessly, perhaps I should join the club whose magazine he edits…

A full review on the car itself will be forthcoming. Suffice it to say that I think it’s a good’un. It even managed to liven up an otherwise rather boring collection caper!

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